Client satisfaction gives us reputation and credibility, however, every now and again we will come across a problematic client. Some of my colleagues will continue to work with clients even when they have asked them to compromise so much and cause hassle. Usually in this scenario, if you do not end the relationship with the client, there will be problems in the future.
There are certain things which the client can say which you should take as a big orange sign saying “Danger”. So when do you dump a client?
When and How to Dump a Client
1. When they ask for silly deadlines
When a client asks you to do a project sooner for the promise of more pay or that they will recommend you to their friends, you are not in for a treat. At this point you should explain to the client that there is nothing you can do to speed up the process and you will not be able to comply.
It may be that you can negotiate a time with the client to make it more satisfactory to your own needs. Continue with the client if they do, however, do bear in mind that if you are late on a project despite aiming for the early deadline, the client will be upset. The client may ask for returned payment or even worse ruin your reputation.
2. When the client refuses to sign
It is a very clear sign that the client will be causing problems, if they refuse to sign a contract with you. There must be a reason why they do not want to sign a document which can stand up in a small claims court against them. Whatever reason they give you, even if they are genuine, I would advise that you always get a signature.
If the client still refuses then explain to them politely, how it is your policy to not to continue on a project without a signature. They may be after a revision in the contract, and if it is a legitimate concern then you may want to change the contract to make it more suiting. You may want to be careful about what you change, but only you can be the best judge of that. This may resolve the issue, but if it does not, I would not continue.
3. Late payees and deposit-avoiders
A deposit is your compensation if the client rejects your work in the future. The time which you will have spent on the project before they reject it, along with your pursuit of their project and rejection of others can be compensated with a deposit. If the client wants to refuse a deposit, you will not be compensated when the shit hits the fan.
Requesting a delayed payment can also be problematic as their work can be done and dusted and then it will be up to the clients ethics whether they pay you or not. I would not trust a client, as I have ended up losing some serious money trusting a client.
You may want to negotiate the deposit. Many freelancers will take 50% deposit and 50% on completion. You can easily change this to 40% deposit and 60% on completion. In extreme genuine circumstances you may want to even consider 30% deposit with 30% when half is complete and then the last 40% at the end.
With clients requesting late payments I would try to negotiate instalments. If they do not want to pay the remaining 50% on project completion, I would ask them to pay 25% now and the remaining 25% in a month.
If none of these solutions work then the client is most likely to cause problems for you in the future. Dump them politely.
4. Clients who want too may revisions
When you show your work to a client and they ask you for a revision, this can be fine. Too many revisions, however, can be problematic. I would usually stretch revisions to the third or fourth revision and after that I would assume that the client can do better without me.
The level of revision also matters. If a client wants you to start again from square 1, you should not compromise so much.
5. When the client wants to run your ass
There can be instances when a client will expect you to do project after project for cheaper or revisit former projects for updates. If a client wants to hire you again, it can be very good, but if they want you to do too much work, I would usually decline. The more problematic issue, however, is when a client wants you to keep checking a previous project and updating it. This is the main reason I do not give clients my IM account details!
If you find yourself stuck in this situation, try explaining politely that you can not keep updating previous work. I find that a sly approach is better…let me demonstrate:
Client: Can you change this on the project you did?
Me: Yeah sure, I’ll send you a new invoice
Client: Isn’t this included as part of the last project
Me: Unfortunately not, you see, the contract outlines that there is a period where you can make revisions and after that period has expired, I will have to make a new invoice
I find that usually sorts out the problem
A Word on How You Dump the Client
Never return your deposit, remember that this was a compensation in case the situation which you are in arose.
Tell the client as soon as possible. Like many relationships, they ought to know sooner than later that it’s not working out.
Return everything which belongs to them. This may be details of the company or photographs or anything which is theirs.
Finally, remember that you should only dump a client as a final resort and should try to resolve issues up to the last step. Dumping a client may hurt your credibility and reputation, and there is nothing worth more than that!